More than 30 relatives of exiled Uyghur leader Rebiya Kadeer have been detained in northwest China's Xinjiang region in recent months, she has said.
Kadeer, president of the Munich-based exile World Uyghur Congress (WUC), told Radio Free Asia on Oct. 27 that they were probably "sent to prison
or political re-education camps" — used since April to hold thousands
of Uyghurs accused
of having "extremist" or "politically incorrect" views.
"Of my immediate relatives — including my children and grandchildren — altogether 11 have been detained," the 70-year-old said.
"But if I include the children of my brother and other relatives, more than 30 are being held," ranging in age from 22 to 58.
Kadeer said she never thought authorities would arrest her children and grandchildren as they had been under virtual house arrest since she went into exile in the U.S.
The former businesswoman and mother of 11 children was freed from a Chinese prison in 2005 on medical grounds after being jailed for six years for sending politically sensitive newspaper clippings abroad.
While some of Kadeer's children joined her in the U.S., others remain in Xinjiang.
Her sons Alim and Ablikim Abdureyim, who had previously served seven and nine years in prison, respectively, were among the family members detained, she said.
Ablikim had been jailed for "instigating and engaging in secessionist activities" online. Evidence of these activities was never provided by the state, according to the WUC.